Dec 21, 2021

*CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS* Honey from the Rock: A Pandemic-Era Rabbinic Anthology


Honey from the Rock: A Pandemic-Era Rabbinic Anthology

Edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor


For the past 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined life itself in every corner of the world. No one could have imagined the immensity of our losses, nor could anyone have foreseen the new possibilities that have emerged as a result of communal and individual relocation. Rabbis have joined the armies of angels responding to all of this, channeling the best of Jewish tradition to support their communities and make meaning of the world we share. New technologies have extended the reach of religious leaders far beyond the physical boundaries of community that once felt more defined, and their soulful offerings have helped countless others feel less alone. Honey from the Rock will be an anthology of reflective writings from within the rabbinic community, representing a true diversity of voices, grounded and vulnerable, inspiring and honest, published in order to amplify the meaning and comfort rabbis have offered during a very difficult moment in human history.


Submissions to torahwithin@gmail.com must be in WORD format and received no later than December 31, 2021.

Nov 29, 2021

How Much Light? A Channukah Meditation

How Much Light? 
A Channukah Meditation
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
"תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: מִצְוַת חֲנוּכָּה, נֵר אִישׁ וּבֵיתוֹ. וְהַמְהַדְּרִין, נֵר לְכׇל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. וְהַמְהַדְּרִין מִן הַמְהַדְּרִין, בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק שְׁמֹנָה, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ פּוֹחֵת וְהוֹלֵךְ. וּבֵית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק אַחַת, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ מוֹסִיף וְהוֹלֵךְ. …"
"The Sages taught: The basic mitzvah of Channukah is each day to have one light kindled per household. And the "mehadrin" (beautifiers of tradition) kindle a light for each and every one in the household. And the "mehadrin min hamehadrin" (extreme beautifiers) adjust the number of lights daily. Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment: Beit Shammai begins with eight lights and decreases each night. Beit Hillel begins with one light and adds one each night…" (TB Shabbat 21b) Perhaps we aren't so different from our early teachers as we might have thought, neither in the questions we ask nor in the responses we generate. How much light is sufficient? One light that can pierce the darkness. But the world deserves more than the minimum. Every person contains light within themselves, and sharing it is beautiful. But really, it's even better than that. Some of us feel inner illumination from the start, and some build our way into that inner light. Some of us feel just a small inner space where the light lives and release more and more of it each day. Because we all do our work in the world, there's abundance in the beginning and there's abundance in the end. You are bathed in light. We are enough for this world. There is beauty ahead. ___ art: A Candle Light, Jonathan Manning

Nov 12, 2021

This is my grandfather, my Sabbah Tzvi, Henry Creditor z”l

This is my grandfather, my Sabbah Tzvi, Henry Creditor z”l, wearing an Eisenhauer jacket sometime in 1943.

Drafted in ‘43 to the US Army’s Tank Destroyer Battalion, he and my grandmother were married while he was on furlough from Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (My grandmother likely saved his life when she pressured him to request a transfer to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His original unit was defeated at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.) His military career led him to Texas, then to California, where he was eventually deployed overseas to the Philippines in the beginning of 1945. He served in the Liberating Army of the Philippines and began training there for the invasion of Japan. On August 6, 1945, the American bomber Enola Gay dropped a five-ton bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. For the next six months, my grandfather served in the Occupation Army in Japan, after which he was honorably discharged and returned home to New York in early 1946.

I bless my Sabbah’s memory and am grateful for his model of service. I bless all our Veterans, and pray for peace, for a time when war is only a thing of the past.

See less

Nov 9, 2021

A Year of Torah - in my hands

I'm overwhelmed. Holding my first Hardcover book, sensing its beautiful weight, feeling more deeply connected than before to our People's heart. This Torah commentary was born within holy community. I pray the intentional comfort and hope on these pages comes through. Holy One, Thank You for this moment. #AYearOfTorah

Yes, You Can Be a Progressive Zionist! Nov 16, 7:30

Thrilled to be in conversation with Rep. Alma Hernandez, Congressman Ritchie Torres, & Tremayne B. Smith in this upcoming episode of Conversations on Zionism with Jewish National Fund - USA! What an important topic! Watch it live on November 16 at 7:30 pm ET by registering at jnf.org/convos #Progressive #Zionism

Nov 7, 2021

Nov 2, 2021

Wednesday, Nov. 17 @ 6pm, Join the Launch of A Year of Torah!

Friends, I'm thrilled to invite you to join this special event, cosponsored by
UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Week! Wednesday, Nov. 17 @ 6pm, I will be in conversation with my colleagues and teachers, Rabbi Deborah Joselow and Rabbi Isaiah J. Rothstein, sharing Torah and discussing my new book! Hope you can join us! Menachem

Get your copy of A Year of Torah here:

Oct 27, 2021

**Very Special Announcement** Announcing the publication of A Year of Torah!

 **Very Special Announcement**

Announcing the publication of A Year of Torah!
(...& stay tuned for the Nov. 17 book launch invite!)

Friends, I am humbled to share with you all this huge moment in my life as a rabbi, as a Jew, as a person.
Beginning the morning of March 18, 2020, I began broadcasting a 15-minute daily opportunity on the UJA-Federation of New York FB page for the New York Jewish community to come together and start each day with learning and inspiration. Born as a timely, local response to the dislocating impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, these broadcasts quickly grew into an sprawling online Jewish learning platform, engaging people from all around the globe, reaching as far as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Holland, England, India, Canada, and beyond. Regular participants became more than 'viewers' over the months; they coalesced into a new form of community, centered on sharing Torah and personal moments every day.
To mark the completion of learning the entire Torah together, I convened rabbinical students representing the amazing diversity of American Jewish expression to take two weeks of the broadcast and express the core ideas in their own voice, which I then edited into this special volume. This contemporary Torah commentary is testimony to the kind souls who turned screens into portals every day, and who built something sacred together during a very difficult time.
404 broadcasts later (we haven't missed a weekday since March 18, 2020!), I feel strengthened and blessed. Everyone is welcome to join the learning every 9am at https://www.facebook.com/ujafedny
My deep thanks to Jamie Weinstein, Marisa Camacho, and Hannah Barach, for supporting my work with such care and skill, and to the entire UJA-Federation of New York family for sharing in the work of caring for Jews everywhere and New Yorkers of all backgrounds, responding to crises close to home and far away, and shaping our Jewish future.
May the works of our hands and the meditations of our hearts find favor in Your Eyes, Holy One, and may we never slow down in our pursuit of a just and kind world.

Sep 24, 2021

We can bring God's Presence closer to this world through our actions . We are a channel for the divine. #ShabbatShalom #ChagSameach #Sukkot


#IronDome saved my life.

I'm a survivor of a terrorist missile strike. #IronDome saved my life. Thank you to every Congressperson who voted for its funding. Iron Dome saves lives - Israeli & Palestinian. The 9 votes against are the fringe who don't/won't understand. A shield means less death everywhere. Thank you Rep. Jamaal Bowman, for your vote to fund #IronDome. May this remarkable defensive technology be only one step in the direction of a lasting, equitable peace for Israelis and Palestinians. May the tools of war one day be strange relics in the eyes of our children's children.

Sep 20, 2021

Chag Sukkot Sameach, dear friends.


When the #Jan6 #Insurrection was perpetrated, I feared in the immediate for our elected leaders and for our democracy.

Purchase Remember and Do Not Forget
here: amazon.com/dp/B08STPFM83

When the #Jan6 #Insurrection was perpetrated, I feared in the immediate for our elected leaders and for our democracy. But I also feared that the terrible, violent attack would later be intentionally minimized and erased by those whose language has created opportunities for a constantly-present yet typically-constrained American fundamentalism. So I reached out to my friend, my colleague, Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, and together we compiled this collection of letters from American Rabbis to their synagogues on that day as testimony. Jewish history has tragically reinforced the biblical command to remember both the roots and branches of violence. We remember. We will not forget. And we will shine a light on this horrific moment in history with the realization that we otherwise doom our children to see it rise again. #Zachor

Sep 14, 2021

A Prayer for the New Year

Dear God,

May we learn/remember how
to open up our hearts and minds and souls.

May we reclaim the headlines
with the shocking good we'll do.

May our children inherit some good decisions
we'll make to offset our countless mistakes.

May we take really good care
of each other and heal this fragile world.


Aug 31, 2021

I'm sure we're still (perhaps even more) shocked by anti-vaxxers in our community. Here's the only response that truly represents THE Jewish position on vaccination.

I'm sure we're still (perhaps even more) shocked by anti-vaxxers in our community. Here's the only response that truly represents THE Jewish position on vaccination. I *never* say such things, cherishing Judaism's multi-vocality. But this is a different framework. Anti-vaxxers are rebelling against many things, including Jewish wisdom. Read this carefully, and if you choose to share it, please copy and paste the text I've excerpted below from the masterful (and fiery) piece by my friend, Rabbi David Glickman, to whom we all owe our thanks.

For the full article, click here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-moral-lapse-of-bashing-synagogue-crowd-limits-in-a-pandemic


"Getting a vaccine is one of the few things in the Jewish world that every single denomination agrees on. The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly has unanimously passed a responsum requiring all Jews to get vaccinated. The Reform Movement has written similarly about this obligation. The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have emphasized “the conclusion of our poskim (religious decisors) that, pursuant to the advice of your personal health care provider, the Torah obligation to preserve our lives and the lives of others requires us to vaccinate for COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine becomes available.”

Leading exemplars of Modern Orthodoxy have spoken loudly in favor of universal vaccination. Rabbi Asher Weiss, a world-wide authority on Jewish medical ethics, has been forceful on the subject. Though he stops short of saying vaccination falls into the legal category of “obligation,” he writes that “it is certainly appropriate for each person to be vaccinated” and views it as an embarrassment and shame that segments of the Jewish community remain unvaccinated.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, over 25 years before COVID, supported vaccines generally. Chabad in fact has sought to dissociate itself from rabbis who opposie COVID vaccination.

When Rabbi Michoel Green, a Chabad rabbi in Massachusetts, promoted anti-vaccine news, he was dismissed by Chabad. After the Chabad rabbi at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst promoted anti-vaccine beliefs, the national organization quickly distanced itself from him and promoted vaccination. At least one Chabad synagogue has opened its doors to become a vaccination site!"

For the full article, click here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-moral-lapse-of-bashing-synagogue-crowd-limits-in-a-pandemic

If every wood gatherer and every water carrier is needed, so too are you necessary. #MorningTorah #Nitzavim #Broadcast370


Aug 29, 2021

Next year, in each other's arms.

I've been editing a Torah commentary, based on the teachings I've been broadcasting every morning on the UJA-Federation of New York FB page since March 2020.

It's both deeply affirming and emotionally difficult, and I wanted to pour some of it out, as we enter the Chagim, masked once again, hovering on the brink of an uncertain hope. I've been revisiting the darkest moments of the last 18 months, feeling what I felt, and these days leading up to Rosh HaShannah are a good time for life-review. We've been through so much, and our deepest prayer must remain the basic and essential and not-to-be-taken-granted-of gift of life.

Please God, may that be our lot. Please God, may more people make responsible decisions for their own and the common good.

Given my current process, editing sacred testimony of the year gone by, glimpsing back through time into our transcendent moments and our dips into despair, there is one thing I pray for this holiday season, for us all, and yes - for me. May we courageously cross the digital divide and enter mindfully into the sanctuaries of our People, knowing we are near each other, and through that knowledge, may we draw ever closer to the very Source of Life.

Suddenly caught in this moment, I find myself missing us all again as if we haven't taken careful steps into each other's lives once again. And maybe this time-travel is fitting, a part of the final lap of the Teshuvah journey, back to the best we can be, which feels to my aching heart like one word: together.

אַחַ֤ת ׀ שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהוָה֮ אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־יְ֭הוָה כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־יְ֝הוָ֗ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ׃
One thing I ask of my God, only this do I seek: to dwell in God's Home every day of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Eternal, to visit God's Inner Place.

Shannah Tovah, dear ones. Next year, in each other's arms.


Aug 24, 2021

Masha Gessen and Sarah Kendzior: In Defense of Truth

Though a bit dated (it is a comparison between Trump and Putin as different and similar models of anti-establishment, autocratic national leaders), this talk by Masha Gessen​ at the UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute​ 2017 Conference is incredibly important. Here's the description from the clip - Highly recommended.

"The current political landscape has made clear the powerful role that the press can play in upholding democracy. Amid daily attacks on the legitimacy of the press, Trump and his administration have limited the press’s access to government and show overt contempt for the democratic norm and role of a free press. The President uses Twitter to manipulate the public discourse with lies and misinformation. For a country that has taken free press for granted, experiencing authoritarian disregard for journalism and truth itself is unsettling. Two journalists and scholars with deep experience observing and reporting under authoritarian leaders will share insights and perspective to help us interpret and contextualize the erosion of the truth and the responsibility of a free, independent, and democratic press. This talk is from the 2017 Othering & Belonging Conference hosted by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley. For more information, visit haasinstitute.berkeley.edu or otheringandbelonging.org."

Aug 15, 2021

theres and thens

theres and thens
menachem creditor
for ben

soft sounds carry sun through time, through space
until they land in me, surprising me
i'm then, i'm there
though i never have been

so play, friends, play
create and pour and dance and share

there are countless theres and thens
and it's so good to be together
smiling in the sunshine

Jul 18, 2021

Watching Comedy (sort of) on Tisha Be'Av with my daughter

With just a few hours of Tisha Be'av left, my daughter and I sat down to watch Bo Burnham's Netflix special "Inside." It felt strange, I said, to watch a comedy special on a mournful day, but Ariel, who had seen it already, recommended it, and I was happy for the company and for the distraction from my rumbling belly.

It was devastating and amazing and I never want to see it again. Burnham's dizzying pace and satiric truth-telling are reminiscent of his earlier work, but this was a categorically different experience from his earlier work. It reminded me more of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" than a comedy special. With fragmentary light, this was a deeply artful and frighteningly baring exploration of the Pandemic's impact on life itself.

I don't want to go too far in any comparison, but having myself sat in front of both the world and noone every morning for 16 months, sharing from my craft and from my soul, with none of the energy of a live class or congregation, I felt some resonance in Burnham's eyes. He hid nothing. It was scary to see the depth of his honesty. Ravaging even.

And that is why my daughter's recommendation was so attuned to Tisha Be'Av. On this day we are called by ancient tradition to face our world's destructions head-on, no production team making the lighting just right, no filters to erase the fissures of reality.

Halfway through the day we begin greeting each other again, emerging from the ritually-guided mourning. Because we are not meant to remain inside. That is where Tisha Be'Av multi-millennia wisdom surpasses Burnham's COVID period piece, brilliant though it is.

Tisha Be'Av is a container for the misery, with rituals that make the pain felt, and with a scheduled conclusion. As the sun begins to set and the minutes of Tisha Be'av are numbered, as the echo of Burnham's pained laughter (hopefully) fade in my mind, I bless us to never forget the lessons we've so painfully learned these long months, but more than that: to internalize an ancient teaching about Tisha Be'Av and offer it to a world in deep need of comfort:

Those who remember the destruction will merit to be part of its rebuilding. May we be so blessed.


Jul 16, 2021

A blessing for Tisha Be'av

I've often noticed the contrast between Yom Kippur and Tisha Be'Av. Their observances are similar; their intents are not. Yom Kippur's promises of return, of forgiveness, of reconnection stand starkly different from Tisha Be'Av's ritually enforced sadness and loneliness ("Jerusalem sits alone," as we read in the Book of Lamentations).

Given those modes of exile and return and given the 16 months we've all been through (and the urgent work ahead), I offer these blessings to us all before this pre-Tisha Be'Av Shabbat, also known as the Shabbat of Vision/Chazon:

May loneliness be met with reconnection.
May our collective vision restore so much that's been broken.
May our actions help the world become a kinder place.
May we not hesitate.



here's the poem. (thank you, Josh.)

"Don't Hesitate"
by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.


photo: 'You're not alone' by Dionne White

Jul 6, 2021

Today's #MorningTorah is dedicated in honor of Elisha Wiesel's leadership of the NO FEAR: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People in Washington, DC this Sunday

 Today's #MorningTorah is dedicated in honor of Elisha Wiesel's leadership of the NO FEAR: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People in Washington, DC this Sunday where I'll be blessed share the stage with my brother in heart Joshua Washington and teach and sing. Find out more here - and join us there! - 


Jul 4, 2021

Captain America | July 4, 2021

Symbols speak loudly, raising to a visible level the language of a collective unconscious. When Marvel set out to tell the story of Sam Wilson, a Black American man who Steve Rogers chose as the next Captain America, they (and Disney) chose something important to convey, something I encourage us to consider this 4th of July: What is America? Who is America? Who isn't? What is the dream of America? We often use the phrase "the Founders" to describe those who fought for American independence. But there have been other Founders, often forgotten or erased from national self-understanding: those who built this land as slaves and those who, today, dedicate their lives to extending the circles of belonging in America. Today is for all the Founders, none of whom are undeserving. Our Captain America says it just right, mythic tone and all: "You people have just as much power as an insane god or a misguided teenager. The question you have to ask yourself is: how are you going to use it?"

Jul 2, 2021

As we journey through the Jewish Three Weeks to America's July 4th, as we read a Torah Portion that mentions "Mishpacha/Family" 90 times (!!), may we remember that the great work of nationhood is best tended through cultivating dreams of healthy, honest relationships with each other. #BuildOnLove #Pinchas #July #july4th #ThreeWeeks #ShabbatShalom

 As we journey through the Jewish Three Weeks to America's July 4th, as we read a Torah Portion that mentions "Mishpacha/Family" 90 times (!!), may we remember that the great work of nationhood is best tended through cultivating dreams of healthy, honest relationships with each other. #BuildOnLove #Pinchas #July #july4th #ThreeWeeks #ShabbatShalom

Jun 22, 2021

**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW BOOK!** “Fault Lines: Exploring the complicated place of Progressive American Jewish Zionism” is now live!


“Fault Lines: Exploring the complicated place of Progressive American Jewish Zionism” is now live!

My amazing co-editor
Amanda Berman and I are so proud to have shared this creative project with 46 contributors from around the world! And a special thank you to our dear teacher, Professor Marc Dollinger, for providing a powerful foreword to the collection! We hope you'll share this news with your friends and on your platforms, to maximize the positive impact this groundbreaking collection can have. You can find the paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0977X1NLS/. The Kindle version is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097M8RDDY. This is how we described the book in the call for submissions, and each piece we received addressed overlapping yet unique responses to the call: It can be very lonely to stand in the world as an advocate for multiple commitments many consider incompatible. One such hybrid stance is Progressive Zionism, deemed racist by many American Progressives and considered suspect (or naïve) by many American Zionists. Those zero-sum approaches of extremist politics and "cancel culture" make even less imaginable a better day for Israelis and Palestinians, for Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews, and for Jewish Republicans and Jewish Democrats. Zionism commits to Theodor Herzl's two-fold vision: securing the right of the Jewish people to a state of our own AND building a national home worthy of Judaism's multi-millennia ethical legacy. The diverse voices collected in "Fault Lines" explore the unique and often-lonely experience of American Jews within all the worlds they consider home. Below, please find Amanda's and my introduction to the book, where we hope you will feel your own contributions echoed and amplified. We are immensely grateful for the community of authors who have shared so freely from their souls. The complete Table of Contents is available here: https://tinyurl.com/FaultLinesTOC The complete list of contributors is available here: https://tinyurl.com/FaultLinesAuthors May you and yours be blessed with health, safety, dignity, and peace. Kol Tuv, Menachem Creditor ______________________________ Fault Lines: INTRODUCTION Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Amanda Berman https://tinyurl.com/FaultLinesBook American Jews are feeling lonely. Lonely because we make up only 2% of the population of this country, 7,500,000 out of 330,000,000 Americans. Our tiny size contributes heavily to our sense of Jewish existential vulnerability, honed over millennia of senseless persecution. Lonely because the vast majority of American Jews identify with the political left, with social justice causes and with the fight for equity and equality for minority groups. But it feels like, far too often, we are expected to strip ourselves of our Jewish and Zionist identities to be welcomed there. Lonely because when we articulate our pain and fear vis-a-vis the efforts to destroy the one Jewish state in the world –– either by force or by narrative –– we struggle to find the words to explain the complexity of the Middle East and our inherent personal relationship to that land and the diverse people living in it. Lonely because when we express our love for Israel and our commitment to its protection, what too many hear is somehow that we oppose the inalienable human rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. Lonely because our progressive values are not exclusive to our domestic views, but while we struggle and grapple with the challenges of the manifestation of the Zionist dream in a sovereign state of Israel, we feel powerless to bring that state more in line with our vision. Lonely because the American political paradigm demands that we subscribe to all-or-nothing, binary ideologies that categorize us as oppressor or oppressed, white or nonwhite, and nothing in between. The Jewish people have never fit neatly into such simple categories. Lonely because we know that the disproportionate focus on Israel, efforts to undermine or delegitimize Israel, and demonization of Israel is a contemporary manifestation of anti-Jewish bigotry. But we also know that Israel isn't perfect and is worthy, as all states are, of criticism –– sometimes quite seriously. The loneliness can be overwhelming. But the truth is that we are absolutely not alone. There are voices who inspire, who empower, who activate, who ideate, who reflect, who grapple, who teach, and who preach. There are voices that confirm our feelings and make sure we feel seen and represented, and voices that challenge our preconceived notions and open our minds to new and complex possibilities. There are voices that express our anger, our frustration, our pain, our fear, our longing –– both for solidarity and for peace. There are so many voices. But sometimes, it's hard to know where to look to find them. There are voices that express our hopes, our dreams, our commitments, our passions – both for the Jewish community and for the world. There are so many magnificent voices calling out these truths. All of this explains why this book came into being. The diverse voices on these pages are some of the very ones most needed if we are to face and address Antisemitism and forced Jewish invisibility by exposing the false dichotomy between Progressive politics and Zionism, if we are to remember and strengthen the Jewish dreams that began the building of a national home worthy of Judaism's multi-millennia ethical legacy. We are deeply grateful to all the contributors of this volume. Thank you for the honor of amplifying your visions of a just world, a safe world, a kind world. May your voices be heard, your prayers fulfilled. May there be peace. Tammuz 5781 June 2021 https://tinyurl.com/FaultLinesBook

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